Earlier this week, the 8th ‘Groundswell‘ event took place in Hertfordshire. Pitched as ‘by farmers, for farmers‘, Groundswell provides ‘a forum for farmers and anyone interested in food production or the environment to learn about the theory and practical applications of Conservation Agriculture or regenerative systems’. Naturally this falls in line with many of the activities of CCRI, and there was a strong presence from the team who were involved in an active capacity along with other leading experts, farmers and innovators. Professor Janet Dwyer, Associate Professor Chris short and PhD research students Nikki Yoxall and Berglind Karlsdóttir were speaking and leading sessions throughout the two days.
Janet Dwyer was a member on a panel along with Defra Deputy Director Janet Hughes and Sue Pritchard of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission. The session organised by Jenny Phelps of FWAG SW with Lindsay Whistance of the Organic Research Centre offered a chance to discuss possible answers for society as it seeks responses to the climate emergency around food, economy and environment; and how to move quickly to a fairer, more resilient society. Russ Carrington, who led the development of a regenerative agriculture approach on the Knepp estate, was also on the panel.
Chris Short spoke as part of a panel and workshop organised by The Floodplain Meadows focusing on the role of species rich floodplain grasslands as a prime example of a nature-based solution that can deliver a range of eco-services, whilst remaining a sustainable productive agricultural crop. Chris outlined the farmer friendly case study videos and fact sheets that CCRI had developed for the Floodplain Meadow partnership which explored the at the practicalities of management and restoration highlighting demonstration sites and partnerships. Other presentations highlighted the research into soil carbon and biodiversity.
Nikki Yoxall led a demonstration into setting or scaling up a mob grazing operation which was very well attended. It covered questions about kit, equipment and planning and was very well attended, included integrating livestock into arable systems. Nikki is currently undertaking a PhD in Agroecological Transitions at the CCRI and is supported by the Soil Association. She has interests in holistic management, agroforestry, and connecting people with their food. She still has time to co-direct Grampian Graziers – working with local landowners to graze cattle for ecological and biodiversity benefit, whilst selling 100% pasture and tree-fed beef to the local community.
Berglind was at Groundswell to promote and evaluate the ‘Farmer’s Guide to Ash Dieback’ which she has produced at Forest Research where she works as a Social Scientist when she is not focusing on her PhD at CCRI. The guide, which was produced by LEAF and in collaboration with FERA and CRPR at University of Exeter, is part of a wider project on engaging farmers in tree health conversations, and better joining up tree health and farming organisations. If you have come across the guide, Berglind would love to hear from you. If you are a farmer, you can do this through a 3-minute survey. At CCRI Berglind also champions trees, exploring how large scale tree planting affects human values and wellbeing.”